A crisis has erupted in Spain after the Constitutional Court(CGPJ) blocked the Senate from voting on a bill to change the way that judges are selected.
Congress last week approved the government bill to change the operation of the CGPJ, which would allow two nominations from the Pedro Sanchez administration to join the conservative-leaning bench.
The CGPJ mainly rules on whether laws and decrees are in line with the constitution including contentious issues like abortion and euthanasia.
But the bench last night narrowly sided(6-5) with the opposition Partido Popular’s request to halt the Senate ratification vote which was seen as a formality.
The bill was introduced as the term of a third of the CGPJ judges have expired and political parties have not been able to agree on replacements since 2018.
The CGPJ intervention has no precedent since the return of democracy to Spain following the death of dictator General Franco in 1975.
Speaking on Tuesday, Prime Minister Pedro Sanchez said: “Democracy requires respect for the law and the popular will.”
“These are unprecedented events in democratic history and the government will everything that it legally can to end this unjustifiable blockade,“ he added.
Sanchez last week warned that right-wing parties and conservative judges were trying to trample on democracy and muzzle Congress.
Eight conservative CGPJ judges then responded on Saturday by branding his comments as ‘irresponsible’ and an attack on institutional legitimacy.
All of this is playing out in the run up to next year’s general election which has to be held by December at the latest with different opinion polls showing varying fortunes for the PSOE socialists who under Sanchez govern in coalition with the far-left Podemos party.